By The Bakersfield Californian
Come this August, Americans may be dealing with the biggest change by the U.S. Postal Service in the past 63 years -- the suspension of Saturday mail delivery.
The Postal Service's recommendation must be approved by Congress, and there are indications that lawmakers may be divided on the issue. If it happens we'll miss Saturday delivery, but we won't miss it that much. Not when the struggling Postal Service can save a whopping $2 billion annually by scaling back delivery from six days a week to five. That's just a fraction of the estimated $20 billion the USPS must come up with in cost savings and new revenue, but it's a start.
Americans were likely bothered and dismayed in 1950 when the Postal Service suspended twice-a-day delivery, but everybody adjusted and life went on. It will be the same if Saturday delivery is suspended.
With more and more people paying bills and corresponding online, and more businesses doing their billing online, the Postal Service has been hemorrhaging badly. The current volume of post offices and postal workers exceeds the volume of mail necessary to process it.
Happily, the same technological game changer that has impacted letter delivery is helping the Postal Service remain profitable in another area. The explosion of consumers' online purchasing has kept package delivery busy -- up by 14 percent in the past three years -- so Saturday package delivery will likely not be affected.
Congress may have been surprised by Wednesday's announcement -- it came with little advance notice from the Postal Service -- but that shouldn't slow their response: Cut Saturday delivery and then start looking for other ways to right the ship. We'll adjust just fine.